Effects of Primary Care-Led, Integrated Palliative Care for Medicare Patients in a Value-Based Model

Karthik Rao, Nathan E. Goldstein, Deborah N. Peikes, Lauren Polt, Benjamin Kornitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Context: Faced with a projected shortage of specialized palliative care physicians, scalable palliative solutions are required to better meet the aging population's needs. Objectives: To determine whether a multi-site, primary care-led, integrated palliative care model improves clinical, utilization, and economic outcomes. Methods: Propensity score-matched comparison group formed from participants who were Medicare beneficiaries, died January 1, 2021–January 31, 2023, were patients of eight primary care practices that partner with agilon health, and enrolled in palliative care for at least seven days. Each practice operates in a value-based model, where primary care providers (PCPs) take on full-risk for the cost and quality of patient outcomes. Each program includes symptom management, defining goals of care/advance directives, PCP care coordination, and assistance with care transitions if patients enroll in hospice. Results: Final sample included 1778 decedents, with 889 in both enrolled and matched cohorts, average age 83. Palliative care is associated with improved patient outcomes from palliative care enrollment until death, including 5.4 more days at home (p < 0.001), 0.4 fewer hospitalizations (p < 0.001), 17% fewer deaths in a hospital (p < 0.001), and $10,393 lower overall healthcare costs (p < 0.001). Conclusion: A primary care-led, integrated approach of delivering palliative care within a full-risk model can be an effective care delivery mechanism to meet the healthcare needs of an aging population by impacting patient outcomes and reducing avoidable utilization and cost at the end of life. These findings demonstrate that PCPs in a scaled, full-risk model can simultaneously improve care for patients while reducing costs to the healthcare system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-203
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Volume67
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2024

Keywords

  • Value-based
  • palliative care
  • palliative medicine

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